Breaking Beta | The Science of Climbing podcast

Are Chalking Up and Shaking Out Actually Helpful or Persistent Myths?

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In this episode, Kris and Paul discuss the dangers of reading only the abstracts of research papers, by taking a look at what science says about chalking up and shaking out. They’ll reference multiple papers including:

Use of ‘chalk’ in rock climbing: sine qua non or myth?

Authored by François-Xavier Li, S. Margetts and I. Fowler; published in the Journal of Sports Sciences in July, 2001.


Active Recovery Strategies and Handgrip Performance in Trained Vs. Untrained Climbers

Authored by Jackson G. Green and Stephen R. Stannard; published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in February, 2010.

They’ll discuss how a study’s design can alter its results and their usefulness, and how key design aspects aren’t always included in abstracts. They’ll compare studies with better/worse designs, reminding us to dig a little deeper into a research paper before accepting the validity of its findings.


*Additional studies/resources mentioned in this episode:

The effect of chalk on the finger–hold friction coefficient in rock climbing Authored by Arif Mithat Amca, Laurent Vigouroux, Serdar Aritan, and Eric Berton; published in Sports Biomechanics in 2012.

Friction between hand and different surfaces under different conditions and its implication for sport climbing Authored by Franz Konstantin Fuss, Günther Niegl, and A. M. Tan; published in The Engineering of Sport 5, Vol. 2 in July, 2004.

The importance of friction between hand and hold in rock climbing Authored by Franz Konstantin Fuss and Günther Niegl; published in Sports Technology in 2012.

Active recovery of the finger flexors enhances intermittent handgrip performance in rock climbers Authored by Jiří Baláš, Michail Michailov, David Giles, Jan Kodejška, Michaela Panáčková, and Simon Fryer; published in the European Journal of Sport Science in 2016.


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And please, tell all of your friends who tell you that liquid chalk and having your arm over your head while shaking out will allow you to climb a grade harder, that you have the perfect podcast for them.


Breaking Beta is brought to you by Power Company Climbing and Crux Conditioning, and is a proud member of the Plug Tone Audio Collective. Find full episode transcripts, citations, and more at our website.

Season 2 of Breaking Beta is proudly supported by Gnarly Sports Nutrition. For a limited time, Breaking Beta listeners can take 15% off their purchase using the code BETA15 at checkout! Or simply click the link above to shop and have the discount automatically applied.

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